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2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Update: Favorite Moses Mosop Not Confident, Ryan Hall Ready to Go

By Mike Knapp, LetsRun.com
October 7, 2011

CHICAGO -- With the Bank of America Chicago Marathon less than 48 hours away, pre-race favorite Moses Mosop didn't come across as one of the most confident guys.

The 26-year-old Kenyan, who ran two hours, three minutes, six seconds to shatter the Boston Marathon course record in April (to finish second by 4 seconds to Geoffrey Mutai), then set a world record in the 30K (1:26:47) on the track at the Prefontaine Classic in June, has been hobbled by an injury to his left Achilles tendon since, which has compromised his training and left him, by his estimation, at about 80-85 percent for Sunday's race.

While he believes the late Sammy Wanjiru's 2009 course record of 2:05:41 is still in reach, it may be more a case of not knowing until he gets out there and sees how he feels.

"I'm not in very good shape after suffering an injury at Eugene," Mosop told the media assembled at the elite athlete press conference Friday morning. "I'm hoping to run well Sunday but I'm not promising anything."

After sitting most of the month of July to try to let the tendon heal, Mosop has been running mostly road miles as track workouts and races in spikes inflames the injury and shuts him down for several days. On Sept. 19 he ran 45K in Kenya in 2:27:13, giving Mosop and coach Renato Canova hope that he will be able to run through the issue.

Canova is feeling a bit more confident than his athlete, based on the belief of Mosop's talent level when healthy.

"The Moses of Eugene could have run a race like Berlin in (sub 2:03)," Canova said. "If you can run 2:02, if you are at 80-85 percent of shape off of basic training it indicates you can run in 2:05."

The plan is for Mosop to go through 30K in 1:29 and make the decision from there. Just looking solely at marathon PRs, Mosop is far and away the favorite, but perhaps this opens the door for other contenders such as Ryan Hall, who has the 2nd fastest personal best in the field at 2:04:58, which he also set at Boston, 2008 Chicago champion Evans Cheruiyot (2:06:25) or Marilson Dos Santos, who has won New York twice and comes off a personal best 2:06:34 at this past spring's Virgin London Marathon.

In all, the field has eight runners who have gone under 2:07:30.

This will be Hall's ninth marathon, and he hopes to use it as a springboard to the 2012 Olympic year. After making the decision to coach himself and move his training base to Flagstaff, Ariz. earlier this year, he feels like he has a better idea of where he stands after recent workouts than he did back in April.

"I'm pleased with the form I'm in," said Hall, who unlike Mosop looked confident and comfortable on the podium. "Leading up to Boston I was doing these workouts and I didn't know if they meant I was fit or wasn't fit. This time around I can compare my fitness to my training for Boston and I have improved since then.

"I'm looking forward to getting out there with Moses and all my fellow athletes and we are going to do something special on Sunday, I really believe that."

The marathon starts at 7:30 a.m. Chicago time. The forecast calls for sun and a temperature of around 60 at race time.

Other Chicago notes:

*Two-time defending women's champion Liliya Shobukhova of Russia believes that if all goes well she can become the 12th woman to go below 2:20.

*Kenyans Edward Muge, Jonathan Maiyo, Onarda McDonard and Ethiopian Regassa Tilahun will be handling the pacing duties up front. Americans Tyler Sigl, Patrick Rizzo and James Carney are working with the women. There will also be pace groups for American runners looking to earn the Olympic Trials qualifier of 2:19.

*Wanjiru, who died in Kenya this past summer, was honored with a brief video presentation highlighting his short but spectacular career which included an Olympic gold in 2008 and two wins in Chicago.

"He is truly missed here in Chicago," said executive race director Carey Pinkowski, who became very emotional while watching the video. "He was special to the world marathon majors and our industry. He was a giving athlete, a friendly athlete, and did everything we ever asked him to do. We sadly, sadly miss him."

*The athletes will be competing for a $100,000 first prize and other time bonuses, including a $50,000 bonus for breaking the course record.

Mike Knapp is a free-lance writer based in Aurora, IL. Knapp has been a regular LetsRun.com visitor ever since he spotted the LetsRun.com jersey at the Chicago Marathon in 2001. We're not sure if he saw it on LetsRun.com co-founder Weldon or Robert Johnson, as 2001 Chicago may be the only race where two runners had the LRC jersey on, as Robert helped pace Catherine Ndereba in her world record run, and Weldon helped pace American Olympian Rod DeHaven to a personal best. Which reminds us, we missed having a 10th year LetsRun.com birthday party.

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